Privately Perusing Porn? Incognito Mode doesn’t stop Google, Cloudflare or Oracle(?) tracking you!

With adult sites attracting more users per month than Twitter, Amazon and Netflix combined, one would hope that using Incognito Mode would stop all tracking of your most intimate data.

However, a recent survey showed that of over 22,000 sites:

  • 93% of them pass on browsing data to a 3rd party
  • 79% of them run at least 9 cookies
  • 17% were encrypted

Incognito Mode prevents cookies being stored on your machine and normally sends a “Do not Track” request (often ignored). However, with sites having more social plugins, they are still receiving some information, albeit limited in nature. To clarify, they are not receiving usernames/names while in incognito mode.

The majority of cookies will transmit:

  • Device data – browser, operating system, screen size
  • Location data – namely originating IP
  • Session data – services logged into while in incognito mode
  • Security information – as used by most website to secure their websites

Oracle have started to track user movements in an attempt to catch up with Google. They have trackers on approximately 24% of sites surveyed. CloudFlare, who also receives some data, is the powerhouse behind the most popular sites. They can be forgiven for having a more legitimate interest.

Using a VPN provides an extra layer of protection, however, a user must place all of their trust in the provider. Opera now includes a VPN built into their browser when using incognito mode.

The safest way (or at least the most private)? Tor! The Onion Router routes traffic through several relays before reaching the end website and is still the defacto method for private web browsing.

While we don’t aim to change the browsing habits of the world, it’s just nice to know what’s happening in the background.

Happy Browsing!

Sources:

1. https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/18/20699025/porn-browsing-sites-google-facebook-oracle-ad-tracking-incognito-mode-study

2. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/07/19/smut_sites_sharing/